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to think seven is too young for boarding school? long!

(174 Posts)
nowirehangers Sun 14-Sep-08 20:51:16

I honestly would love some people to tell me IABU and explain to me why going to boarding school at seven is not a bad thing because I am truly baffled by this
OK, so dh has an old friend from uni, very sweet guy if a bit screwed up married to a very high achieving wife: head girl, first from Oxford, kick-ass city career etc
She has two dds aged 3 and about four months. When she was pg with her dd1 she made a big deal about how she was going back to work full time and getting a full-time live-in nanny. Fair enough, I thought, as I work part time myself and have a nanny I am certainly not one to judge.
But the other day when chatting at a party about the pros and cons of bringing up dds in London, she said "Well, of course it won't be a problem for us because I'm sending dd1 to boarding school when she's seven"
I thought she was joking and laughed but she went on "No, you see, dh works very long hours and I don't think dd1 will have much fun in the evenings stuck at home with just me and dd2 for company. I think she'll have much more fun at boarding school."
She went on to say she'd started boarding school at eight and loved it and then told me about a friend who'd just sent her ds to boarding school at seven because he found his younger siblings boring and cried whenever his parents went out in the evening saying 'be with me'. They thought he'd be happier surrounded all the time by his contemporaries.
Now am i getting this all wrong? It strikes me seven is WAY too young to be sent away from your parents. The wanting to be with friends all the time thing comes much later, as I recall, and even when it does children still need far more parental input and contact than they think they do.
Or maybe not.
The whole thing seems even screwier in tnat she's always said she wants four dcs, despite - her words - not being maternal - in the slightest. Her dh works ludicrous hours as a lawyer partly because he needs a lucrative career to afford boarding school fees for four. It seems a bit of a catch 22 since she's partly blaming his long hours for the fact the children need to be sent away at the earliest possible opportunity.
I just feel really sad for their sweet little girl. The mum added she'd really miss her but it would be in her daughter's best interests so she'd have to bite her lip and put up with it.
Please someone tell me that going to boarding school so young can be a positive thing and this woman is talking sense. Because right now I think she's a loony and it's really getting me down.

jellybeans Sun 14-Sep-08 20:55:35

YANBU I would not send my kids of any age to boarding school it just seems abit tight.

jellybeans Sun 14-Sep-08 20:56:24

Meant to say but seven is VERY young. I thought they couldn't go till about 9-10.

lisalisa Sun 14-Sep-08 20:57:48

Hmmm - well I'm not going to tell you that. SEven is much too young imo to be away from mum and dad ( especially mum). I have a 7 year old who stil likes me to sing to her at night and bring her warm cocoa before she sleep s and read stoties to her. There is absolutely no way on this earth she would cope with being aprt from me. Feel sad for this little girl you know........

MrsBates Sun 14-Sep-08 21:08:27

Some boarding schools take children from 2. Really. I wouldn't dream of sending my children to boarding school at any age. But my husband went and loved his prep school, although left his senior school at 15 and went to the local comp which is where his lasting friends have come from. Each to his own I guess but I can't understand why you have children if you're going to send them away. I would fight to the death to stop my children being taken away so I certainly wouldn't send them off of my own volition. Still, if your parents are that way inclined maybe you'll find warmer relationships elsewhere. My niece is at boarding school and she thinks it's fantastic - didn't go til 13 though.

nowirehangers Sun 14-Sep-08 21:08:48

jelly, some take them from five sad
Seven is not unusual

ethanchristopher Sun 14-Sep-08 21:09:40

they will miss out on her whole childhood if she boards

i think its pathetic and a cop out

i wouldnt do it

Pawslikepaddington Sun 14-Sep-08 21:11:30

I went at 11 and hated it-the boarders that went from seven were really messed up and despised their parents-that is so sad.

CountessDracula Sun 14-Sep-08 21:11:34


Dh was sent away at 8
He is 42 and has still not recovered

Heated Sun 14-Sep-08 21:15:42

My mother considered it when we were at secondary age, my father and one of his siblings having very happily boarded in their teens. 7 is far too young, even for weekly boarding, & they have to want to board at 11 imo.

fatzak Sun 14-Sep-08 21:21:14

2 or 5?? That's the age of my DSes and it makes me almost weep to think of such little ones boarding sad

gabygirl Sun 14-Sep-08 21:45:19

I went to boarding school at 11, as did my sister and brother.

I personally think that being sent to boarding school had damaging emotional consequences for all three of us that my parents could never have forseen and that have affected our relationships with other people our whole lives through. I would never, never do it to my own children, not at 7, 11 or any age. BTW - at the time I told my parents I was happy and that I enjoyed school. It's only as an adult that I'm able to understand the way the experience of being sent to live away from my family affected me.

This is an article about the long term psychological harm that boarding school can do to children:


I feel desperately sorry for your friend's child.

struwellpeter Sun 14-Sep-08 21:47:41

My dh started at a boarding school in the Midlands when he was seven, all the way from Scotland. He loved it and was very happy there.

However, I wouldn't consider my children boarding at that age. My dd aged 9 was desperate to board last year and wanted to save up her pocket money for it! Did say that the pocket money wouldn't be anywhere near enough...and as we live within sight of the school it wouldn't be worth it , or real boarding anyway. My eldest (14) would board given the chance but as we live close we can't justify it and I love to see him when he comes home in the evenings, even though it isn't until 9.30pm.

I don't know anywhere that takes really little children (pre-sevens). There are very few schools where all children are boarders and boarders from the beginning. IMO this is as it should be but it also reflects market trends. Far fewer parents now want to send children away so young, or very far from home. Most children who board in secondary school work up to it these days by doing increasing amounts of flexi-boarding in their prep schools, but there are of course exceptions.

I find it very sad to think of the OP's friend not wanting to have the company of her dds. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the little girl had more attention at school, and it doesn't sound to me as if her mother has ever really been the primary carer anyway. You really do wonder why some people have children...

platypussy Sun 14-Sep-08 21:52:07

Why (unless there is a VERY good reason) have children and send them to boarding school?

bythepowerofgreyskull Sun 14-Sep-08 21:52:27

I went at 7 - I thought I liked it but to me it was my normality.
Now as an adult I can see that I lost my family the day I went.

My parents will see what they lost when they see my boys grow up in my home not away at school. They have no idea - they think that it was the proper thing to do.

I think it says alot that she was sent to boarding school so for her this is norm. she has no idea how a loving family can be - even if they do bicker and disagree about things.

very sad sad

mabanana Sun 14-Sep-08 21:54:54

She sounds like a woman who wants all her status symbols lined up like ducks in a row - big earning alpha male husband, four kids (so fashionable darling), bit social life etc but can't be bothered with the kids, and thinks it's posh to send them away. I think it's an horrific idea. Just horrific. Poor little girl.

dittany Sun 14-Sep-08 21:59:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Pawslikepaddington Sun 14-Sep-08 22:00:04

I never pretended I liked it and my parents still kept me there-it is incredibly emotionally damaging to a child of any age to be "sent" away-if they have the choice of coming home again if they hate it that may be a different matter, but it was a horrid place for me, and for a lot of other children, but you are led to believe that life would be worse if you stayed at home. Saying that her mum seems quite distant anyway, whereas my mum and I were close until I went away to school. Poor little girl.

dittany Sun 14-Sep-08 22:00:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlackEyedDog Sun 14-Sep-08 22:11:01

my dad went to boarding school at five. I think it was a bizarre and confusing thing for him.

I would never consider it for my ds.

sad for the girl.

georgimama Sun 14-Sep-08 22:11:50

7 is far too young, my DH boarded at 7 and although he loved the school, was very lovingly treated, and was probably better off there than at home at the time, it has affected his relationships with his parents and his brother.

Before DS was born DH thought he would want DS to board (I said nothing because there is no point having an argument 7 years in advance) but now he would not dream of sending him away and cannot understand how his parents could.

I might allow DS to board at 16 as preparation for uni, if he was really for it, if we could afford it and if I was satisfied that he was emotionally ready for it - otherwise, no way (and I am strongly in favour of private education).

solo Sun 14-Sep-08 22:12:53

High acheiving woman doesn't sound like a typically maternal one does she? I couldn't send my children away, they are too precious to me - most of the timegrin.

beanieb Sun 14-Sep-08 22:17:59

she (your husband's friend's wife) seems to be contradicting herself. At first you say she says she went to boarding school and was happy, then you imply that she has said she is unhappy ie "she'd have to bite her lip and put up with it".

fishie Sun 14-Sep-08 22:24:08

my mum was evacuated from london to scotland at 18m and never came back 'home' at all, just from school to school, most hols with scottish aunt.

mm22bys Mon 15-Sep-08 09:58:54

YANBU. I didn't go to boarding school, but DH did, from about 10 or 11. I would say he is the least close to his parents (he has three siblings). I don't know if that is because he went to bs, or because of his place in the family (third of four, second son, not the "baby" of the family).

I would question the parents' motives for having children, they seem very hands off, and seems like they want to get rid of them when they can.

DH is VERY against sending either of our DSs to bs, ever. TO me that says just so much...

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